By on April 24, 2020

Some of you have been reading this site for a long time, and for that, I’m thankful. You might remember that I used to fly around the country to drive and review readers’ cars. It seems impossible that I wrote this post almost six years agobut it’s true. On that day, I had taken a flight to Baltimore to do a pilot workshop for Autotrader, and was picked up at the airport by a loyal reader and soon-to-become new friend, Gene.

We had a marvelous time hooning around in his brand new Chevrolet SS. I think it was one of the first, if not the first “Reader Ride Reviews” that we did on this site, a feature that I sorely miss. Seeing the pride that readers had in their own cars and watching their eyes light up as they saw what their cars were capable of doing in the hands of a (slightly) trained driver was always a delight.

Well, imagine my delight and surprise when our formerly SS-owning friend Gene emailed me out of the blue last year. He had read my commentary on the C8 Corvette and invited me to try out his new C8 when it arrived sometime in February. I gleefully accepted.

Well, we all know what happened next. First, there was a strike. Then, there was a virus. Gene began to suspect that his C8 would not be built in time for his delivery date — and then, perhaps not at all.

That’s when I had an idea.

Gene was thinking of doing one of the following:

Placing a new order for a 2021 C8

Buying a Mustang GT convertible

Buying a Camaro SS convertible

But I had a better plan. Why not take advantage of some of the ridiculously low pricing and aggressive financing to buy a still-new, still-on-the-lot C7 Grand Sport? Gene’s original order was for a base 1LT C8, and I had every confidence that the C7 Grand Sport could be had for far less money, and would be a superior car to the base C8 in every way possible.

I wrote to Gene and suggested that he investigate how to retrieve his C8 deposit and get himself behind the wheel of a C7. Perhaps not surprisingly, he hadn’t considered this option. Once he did, however, he became quite enamored with the idea. Although he had been planning to pay cash for his new toy, he agreed that it was hard to turn down the idea of free money.

“Besides,” he wrote, “I’ll be 75 when I’m done paying it off, so maybe they can bury me in it, too.”

We began to look through C7 GS inventory across the country together, since, frankly, neither one of us probably had a whole lot else to do during this lockdown. Gene found a 2019 Grand Sport Convertible 2LT about 80 miles from me at a dealership in Louisville. I offered to go look at it for him, since he still lives in the DC metro area.

Alas, per a directive from the governor, Kentucky dealers aren’t allowing anybody into showrooms at the moment. Despite Gene’s willingness to drive all the way from Northern Virginia to check the Vette out, the sales staff refused to allow him a test drive. They would allow him to buy it, sight unseen, and then he’d have to arrange for shipment from Louisville to his home. Ugh.

I don’t have any contacts at this particular dealer group, but I do have some with another group in KY that had a white 2019 Z06 in stock at a crazy discounted price. Gene’s preference was for a naturally aspirated engine, but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to check. I emailed the owner and asked if he’d be willing to drive the Z06 to an undisclosed location, leave the keys in it, and then pick it up from that same location later (this is called a “test drive”). He emailed back quickly and agreed.

We also found two other 2019 GS around the country — one in Ohio, and another in Maryland, with both dealers offering as much as $15,000 off of MSRP plus promotional zero percent financing for 84 months.

However, as sensible men often do, Gene decided that it would be best to sit on this decision for a bit. He’s in a lovely position when it comes to buying a car — he has all the money required to do so, and none of the urgent need. For now, Gene is content to sit on his patio and smoke a cigar, which is something all of us could probably use right now.

If Gene, a man who is motivated and has the means to buy virtually any car he wants, is finding it difficult to buy a car nowadays, one has to wonder how this shutdown is affecting people who need to buy a car — not to mention dealers who need to sell them.

In the meantime, I look forward to helping Gene find the car of his dreams when this is all said and done. Whenever that is.

If you’d like Bark to help you hunt down a car deal right now, please email him at [email protected]. He has nothing better to do. If you don’t, he swears he’ll keep posting cooking how-to videos on his Instagram stories. Nobody wants that. 

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20 Comments on “Ask Bark In the Real World: Will Somebody Sell Me a Vette?...”

  • avatar

    Here in Denver, dealers are still selling cars – it’s just being done virtually. In fact, the Audi place I have my car serviced at is offering salesperson-free test drives – you show up, and take a (supposedly) sanitized car out for a solo drive. This seems like a prime opportunity to really abuse something I can’t afford. How about that RS3, guys?

    (By the way, if any of you live in the vicinity of Flatirons Crossing in Broomfield, that now-deserted road is quite a little racetrack – lots of hills and curves, with zero traffic. Without cars, it might be the best driving road in metro Denver. Enjoy it while you can before the mall opens up again.)

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Neighbor… I rode my bike through Interachen earlier this week and thought the same thing. Those roads are amazing when empty of suits yelling on their cellphones while driving.

    • 0 avatar

      This is how they are doing it here….in Louisville KY, same as in the article. Sounds like Bark talked to some real morons at a certain Chevy dealer (and I have a very good idea which one). In fact, I bought a vehicle this way two weeks ago, showed up to find it with keys in it, test drove it, did some weird social-distanced paper signing, and drove away.

  • avatar

    If he’s a manual driver the C7 is a great choice, but as dirty automatic-driving scum I read enough driveability issues involving the 8A that I decided to pass until there’s a more long-term fix for that transmission.

    • 0 avatar

      Truth. While the C8 might be amazing its way too early to tell if GM got it right. The C7 is known and established, it works as promised… just: keep the supercharged ones away from the track, avoid the dreaded automatic and put decent wheels on the Grand Sport (the OEM ones are made of glass).

      Given how little most ‘Vettes are driven anyone waiting for a C8 could pick up a used C7 or even new C7 (0% financing) to keep them occupied until 2021. They may suddenly wonder why GM bothered to move the engine. If you like road trips the C7’s hatch configuration holds plenty of luggage for you and a lucky lady.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        Yesterday finally I was able to do some work that required me to drive 70 miles one way…my C6 has been in the garage for a month….It is shocking how much I enjoyed 140 miles of automotive therapy in the vette’. I have not driven a C7 and fear that I need to take the Nancy Reagan approach and just say NO. Financially I could do it, just zero need exists as part of yesterday was rolling 60k miles on my 05′ C6….which I adore. But….I am trying to think of a scenario where I would not like the C7 and can’t think of one.

        JMII I am glad to know you enjoy your C7, seems like the vette’ gets a lot of unwarranted trash talk. I think for the $$ they are a fantastic car; and for the money I mean $15k for a nicely sorted low mileage used up to a $100k super car. Whatever suits your fancy.

        • 0 avatar

          The C7 may have had some teething issues, but the car is fantastic. Mine is the same year as JMII, with a stick. If I had to say something bad about them it would be the consistency of assembly and finish. A lot of the panel assembly seems to be more like the old school way (adjustability on the assembly line) as opposed to the robotic precision of steel-bodied cars with little or no worker adjusting of panel fit. And with the first few years, the paint could have a bit too much orange peel. I hesitated when I ordered mine but I pulled the trigger and simply told the dealer that poor fit would cause me to refuse delivery. Mine was delivered with near-perfect fit and minimal orange peel. I would not hesitate recommending the purchase of a C7 to anyone. They are superb driver’s cars and they have a decent amount of storage for a couple to travel with.

  • avatar

    Oh-boy ~ this sounds like the deal of a lifetime .

    Mark, you’re going to have to check back in with all the details, sordid and good .


  • avatar

    I’m helping my mother in law (an RN) find an Accord or Camry to replace her dying 528i. I was very surprised that numerous Honda dealers in the SoCal area want me to come in to do the 4 square game with me. It seems like a lot of these dealers are stuck in the old in person negotiations. With social distancing orders in my state and the fact I’ve negotiated all of my recent vehicle purchases online, I really don’t want to sit with a salesperson for hours in the dealership. Moved onto a Camry and now I’m on the complete opposite end of Honda; salesperson is negotiating online only. Much better experience in this strange world we are in.

  • avatar

    So an interesting phenomenon that has not been discussed here is the impact the lockdown is having on private party transactions. In many localities I don’t think they exist anymore. My situation is a case in point: I have in my driveway a used, but new to me Toyota Sienna for family hauler duty. I was ready to go to the DMV to transfer the title so it could be registered and insured in my name when they closed all physical motor vehicle commission office in the state of NJ. While the state website talks up all the great services they offer online such as registration renewals they are strangely silent on the fact that there is no way to transfer a title between private parties or to register a vehicle for the first time to a new private owner except in person at offices that are no longer open. For me this is just an annoyance as I have four other registered vehicles to choose from including the previous van that soldiers on in its duties of hauling kids. However, I could see this being a major issue for people that have a car that has given up the ghost and they are trying to replace it with one gifted from family or bought from another private party. There only option for replacement of cheap transportation would be to go to a dealer that will likely want to play pricing games and also charge them the $300+ document fee meaning that many of those transactions really won’t be super cheap transportation.

    • 0 avatar

      This is something that I too would like to hear more about. Last weekend I acquired an old Mopar. The car was only about 50 miles away, and was in running condition, but with no way to get plates with the MVA closed, I had to have it brought home on a flatbed. And while I have the signed title, I can’t get one with my name on it anytime soon. Not that the car doesn’t need plenty of work to show off, but it could certainly be driven in the meantime if I could just get the paperwork done.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m in the same boat in Nevada. The fine for operating a vehicle without registration is $750. And you can’t argue it in court, although I’m sure the case would be legitimate, because traffic courts are closed.

      • 0 avatar

        Your good until the end of June for now eggsalad but you need to print a letter:

        • 0 avatar

          This is true in Maryland as well, some of my plates were expiring and the MVA sent me a letter stating that they’d be extended (can’t remember how long, since I sold the car last year).

          So definitely check whether Nevada is doing something similar.

        • 0 avatar

          This extension is for existing registrations. I do not currently have a registration. All I have is the PO’s signed title.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Yesterday I actually received a telephone call from the dealership we are leasing a vehicle from.

    Wanted to know a) if I wished to book the vehicle for service and b) if I was interested in terminating the lease early and getting into a newer vehicle?

    I haven’t had a call like that in decades.

    The showroom is closed, the service area open. For sales you book an appointment and meet the salesperson one on one usually out in the parking lot with a demo of the vehicle that you are interested in. Negotiations and contracts can be conducted on line.

    In Ontario most if not all Service Ontario storefronts are closed. So for now you may continue to drive with an expired drivers license or license plate sticker. Since any used car sales require a ‘valuation’ by an approved valuator and a vehicle ‘history’ document from the government, I am assuming that private car sales are basically at a standstill.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Who the heck buys a Vette. The Teluride is the hot ticket nowadays. You know it.

  • avatar

    Sheeit, I purchased my last new car from 2000 mi away and did the whole deal over text. I didn’t speak to the salesman once, it was glorious. I did have to talk to the finance lady so she could try to sell me the extras but I had zero voice contact with my salesman. Signed the contract at my kitchen table.

  • avatar

    Nice looking Commodore! A pity that GM cannot afford to keep engineering RHD platforms….like Ford, Renault, Peugeot, Volkswagen, Great Wall, SIAC, LDV, KIA/Hyundai, Jeep, Fiat. It just goes to show (1) how insular GM is and (2) money must be so tight or non-existent inside of GM.

  • avatar
    Russell G

    Hey Bark, and interesting situation there with Gene. If I was in the market for a Vette I would definitely pass over the C8 and go with a leftover C7. You could certainly shop for me and bring it to my driveway, but you’d have to stay 6 feet away. Just throw me the keys. That is after you sanitize them !!!

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